By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
March is almost here, warm weather downstate has given us at least a reminder of spring, and the final week of girls basketball regular season is another indication that the most exciting part of a long winter is nearly upon us.
Of course, there are a few championship to decide before next week’s start of the MHSAA Tournament, and a few more big-time nonleague matchups to get in as teams prepare to take their best shots at becoming Breslin Bound.
We offer a glance at some of those below. Next week we’ll come back with previews of three Districts of particular interest in each Division as we move closer to our final destination at Michigan State. “Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. Send corrections or missing scores to Geoff@mhsaa.com.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Hartland 36, Brighton 33 – The Eagles (17-1) and Miss Basketball Award finalist Whitney Sollom avenged their lone loss, 41-33 on Jan. 24, to move past Brighton (16-2) and clinch the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West championship.
2. Lake City 36, Manton 26 – The Trojans (18-1) finished a perfect run through the Highland Conference to win their first league title since 2000, downing second-place Manton and then third-place McBain two days later.
3. Port Huron 42, Grosse Pointe North 39 – The Big Reds capped a 20-0 regular season by downing North (13-6) to win the Macomb Area Conference Red/White Tournament.
4. Farmington Hills Mercy 51, Bloomfield Hills Marian 40 – After a regular-season split that led to a shared Detroit Catholic League Central championship, Mercy (17-2) clinched the Bishop Tournament title with this deciding game over the Mustangs (14-4).
5. Montague 59, Hart 46 (3OT) – The Wildcats (15-4) clinched the West Michigan Conference championship after previously losing to Hart (16-4) on Jan. 17, 39-31.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
East Kentwood (15-3) The Falcons are carrying an eight-game winning streak since suffering their only Ottawa-Kent Conference Red loss, 45-41 to Hudsonville on Jan. 17, and will earn a shared league title if both teams win out this week. East Kentwood is the reigning league champion and beat this week’s opponents Grand Haven and Caledonia by 37 and 43, respectively, the first time through the schedule. The Falcons’ only other losses came to two other Division 1 contenders – Detroit Renaissance by two and East Grand Rapids by seven, both in mid-December.
Hudsonville (17-1) The Eagles’ only defeat this season came to East Kentwood on Feb. 14, 53-46, and a shared league title would give them their first league championship since 2015-16. They beat their opponents for this week, Holland West Ottawa and Grandville, by 35 and 41, respectively, during the first round of league play. In addition to defeating East Kentwood in January, Hudsonville also handed recently-clinched O-K Gold champion East Grand Rapids (18-1) its only loss, on Dec. 13.
Detroit Edison (17-0) We’ve highlighted one of Edison’s wins in the above section of this report nearly every week – which is what happens when a team goes undefeated against a slate of opponents with a combined .810 winning percentage. Among those, Edison has beaten arguably the top three teams in Division 1 – Ann Arbor Huron, East Lansing and Detroit Renaissance – with its only two single-digit in-state wins to Renaissance by two and last week to reigning Division 4 champion Adrian Lenawee Christian 67-62. Standout senior Gabrielle Elliott also is one of three Miss Basketball Award candidates.
Freeland (14-4) The Falcons defeated Frankenmuth (13-5) on Friday 43-39 to clinch the Tri-Valley Conference East outright, continuing a courageous run this season after the unexpected death of highly-respected coach Tom Zolinski on Nov. 22. Freeland opened the season 3-3, but has lost only once since Dec. 18, to Division 1 Saginaw Heritage (12-6) by four. The Falcons avenged one of those early defeats by beating TVC East second-place Standish Sterling 60-54 on Jan. 28, and they also own an impressive win over Kingsley (13-6).
Flint Hamady (18-2) Last season’s Division 3 runner-up is back in tournament form and closed its regular season by clinching the Genesee Area Conference title outright with a 63-54 double-overtime win over Morrice (13-4). Hamady swept the Orioles and rival Flint Beecher (12-6) in league play, and also earned solid wins over Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes (12-6) and Grand Blanc (10-8) during the first weeks of the season. The only losses came to Division 1 Flint Kearsley (13-5) and Davison (11-7), the Davison defeat by just a point.
Springport (16-2) The Spartans have clinched the Big 8 Conference title for the second-straight season and run their league winning streak to 29 despite playing in a conference this winter with four other teams that have won at least 10 games. Total, Springport has won 10 games over teams with double-digit victories, with its only defeats to Cascades Conference co-leaders Grass Lake (16-2) and Michigan Center (15-3).
Fowler (14-4) The Eagles locked down second place in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference last week behind reigning Division 3 champion Pewamo-Westphalia. And if last season’s run to the Division 4 Semifinals was an indication, another high league finish should pay off for the Eagles. Five CMAC teams have at least 10 wins or more going into this final week, and Fowler swept the rest including Portland St. Patrick (14-4). The Eagles’ other losses were to reigning Division 4 champ Adrian Lenawee Christian (17-2) and Division 2 power Portland (16-3).
Ubly (17-1) The Bearcats have locked up the Greater Thumb Conference East title, their first league championship in at least a decade, after finishing fourth in the East and 11-11 overall last season. This winter’s run included sweeps of Sandusky (15-4) and Harbor Springs (13-5), and the only defeat came Dec. 17 to eventual GTC West champion Caro. Ubly is holding opponents to a mere 24.4 points per game.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Monday – Brighton (16-2) at Wayne Memorial (15-3) – The KLAA East champion hosts the West runner-up, with the winner playing for the overall league title Thursday against either Hartland or Dearborn.
Tuesday – Williamston (15-3) at Michigan Center (15-3) – With Friday’s one-point win over Haslett, Williamston is in position to win at least a share of the Capital Area Activities Conference Red, but first faces a Michigan Center team in the same scenario in the Cascades Conference.
Thursday – Farmington Hills Mercy (17-2) at Detroit Renaissance (17-2) – The Detroit Public School League champion Phoenix host the Catholic League Bishop champion Marlins at the annual Operation Friendship games.
Thursday – Plainwell (13-5) at Edwardsburg (17-1) – The Eddies tied for first in the Wolverine Conference South and host North champion Plainwell; Edwardsburg winning their Feb. 11 meeting.
Friday – Midland Dow (16-2) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (15-3) – Dow from the Red and Carman-Ainsworth from the Blue will play for the overall Saginaw Valley League championship.
Second Half’s weekly “Breslin Bound” reports are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO: East Lansing’s Aaliyah Nye, a Miss Basketball Award finalist, gets a shot up over two Okemos defenders last week. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)